Minus an MIAA postseason, the defending Division 1 state champion Bishop Feehan girls’ soccer team does not have a title to defend this fall.
The goal now is a Catholic Central League crown, in the program’s inaugural season in the CCL, and an unbeaten finish.
Bishop Feehan has a 33-game unbeaten streak following Wednesday’s 7-1 victory over Bishop Stang. That was the first goal allowed in 11 games by the Shamrocks, who have outscored their opponents by a combined 73-1.
Senior captains Lindsey Moskal and Francesca Yanchuk said a perfect season this year would have meant a league title without a single goal scored against them, but the first part of that remains a realistic goal.
“Just playing the way we are playing, I think that’s all we can ask for,” Moskal said.
Added Yanchuk: “It was definitely devastating when we got the news that we can’t compete for a state championship. But we just go out every practice, every time we step on the field for a game, and work our hardest and play our hardest.”
The top seed in the upcoming Catholic Central League Cup, Feehan certainly has found a home in the CCL after the Eastern Athletic Conference was dissolved. In past seasons, coach Phil Silva has built a stiff nonleague schedule against the likes of perennial powers Hingham and Whitman-Hanson. This season, because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Shamrocks are limited to a conference-only schedule.
“I think the Catholic Central League may be a little underrated, to be quite honest,” Silva said. "Obviously we always love to put together a pretty strong nonconference schedule, but I think our current league would match up pretty well against most leagues in the state.”
Yanchuk, who is committed to Villanova, is leading the Shamrocks in scoring for the second straight season. But even after the graduation of a number of starters, Feehan still boasts a balanced, experienced lineup.
Yanchuk and Moskel, along with defenders Kelly Coady and Anna Jones, and keeper Maddie Breckner, are all two-year starters.
“We’ve also got some good younger players to complement this senior group that obviously had tremendous success last year and again this year,” Silva said. “It’s a great group to work with — very focused on the task at hand every day, making sure that they do everything right.”
Freshman midfielder Kileigh Gorman has the second-highest goal total on the team.
“She’s an awesome asset to our team,” Moskel said of Gorman. “She plays with great foot skills, great speed, great hustle.”
Despite a number of rule changes because of COVID-19 precautions — many of which are especially detrimental to versatile midfielders such as Gorman — her skill level, and that of the team as a whole, has still shone through. With no headers or shoulder-to-shoulder contact allowed, Yanchuk said that the team has had to “take a step back,” and over the course of the season, the players have adapted fully to the challenging rule changes.
▪ Newton Southcapped another stellar season by cementing its fourth Dual County League title in the last five years, knocking off rival Westford Academy on Sunday to win the DCL Large Cup.
“Being a senior, I was extremely grateful we were able to play a season at all, but our team clearly saw our opportunity to go out big and ran with it,” said cocaptain and goalie Olivia Dubin, who will play at Holy Cross. “It was extremely apparent that every single girl on our team wanted that Cup just as much as us seniors, and being in a group with a collective goal and focus was amazing.”
The team’s outgoing seniors will graduate with a combined record of 59-9-6. Newton South has been remote since March, so playing soccer every day provided some normalcy and excitement during a stressful time.
Sophomore Bria Abbiati‚ the Lions’ leading scorer, was a league all-star. Union College commit Grace Penna and sophomore midfielder Maddy Genser anchored the midfield, while freshman Sienna Masood joined seniors Lottie McLeod, Masie Abbiati, and Viveca Winston-Khan in the stingy back line. Coach Doug McCarthy credited his players for not complaining about the rule adjustments and rising to the occasion to finish the season in style.
“Even though we had a shortened postseason, we had a desire to play the game and persevere, not only through the season but also through the pandemic,” McLeod, a cocaptain, said. “Never have I seen our soccer sisterhood stronger and closer than this past weekend.”
▪ After dropping its first game of the season to Newburyport, North Reading (6-1-3) went undefeated the rest of the way.
The Hornets needed a victory over Pentucket in their finale to earn a share of the Cape Ann Kinney crown with the Sachems, the program’s first since 2005. North Reading prevailed, 2-0. The feat meant even more after the league opted to cancel the postseason tournament.
Captain Julia Thorstad ended the season with exactly 50 saves in 10 games for North Reading, and fellow captain Katelyn Gorgenyi was crucial on defense. Maddie DiNapoli (7 goals, 4 assists) and Jenna DiNapoli (5 goals, 2 assists) — who are not related — led the way offensively.
“Modifications, no problem. No state tournament, no problem. Fewer games, no problem,” coach Sean Killeen said. “They got to play a sport they love with their closest friends and compete.”
The Hornets knew they had something special in the works when they started training back in June, and they were thrilled to finish with a share of the title.
“The key to our success in winning the CAL title was executing in big games where we were under pressure,” Thorstad said. “Coach Killeen told us that any team can beat any other team on any given day, and we learned and proved that.”
▪ Cohasset coach Deb Beal notched her 200th career win last Friday when the Skippers opened the South Shore League tournament with a 5-1 victory over Mashpee.
She said No. 200 felt as wonderful as No. 1, and she credited the players and the community for making the milestone possible.
Beal started her career 9-49-11 through four years, and 200 sounded like “a cruel joke” at that point.
“With dedication and hard work, we turned this ship around,” Beal said, “and look how far we’ve come.”
Games to watch
Thursday, Falmouth at Nauset, 4 p.m. — At 7-1-2, Nauset earned the No. 1 seed in the Cape & Islands League tournament, and after a first-round bye, will take on Falmouth. To open the tournament, Falmouth took down Dennis-Yarmouth 2-0, so the Clippers will make the trek east.
Saturday, Lexington at Winchester, 9 a.m. — Ranked fourth in the nation in the United Soccer Coaches High School Rankings, Winchester currently sits at 8-0 after a 6-1 win over Woburn on Wednesday morning. Though Lexington has struggled this season, the Minutemen also dominated Woburn, 6-1.
Saturday, Wakefield at Burlington, 9 a.m. — Wakefield and Burlington are still on the hunt for their first wins in this abbreviated season. Two out of the host Red Devils' three games so far have been decided by a goal.
Saturday, Haverhill at Billerica, 12 p.m. — Billerica is riding high on a six-game unbeaten streak, while Haverhill will look to rebound from a 4-2 loss against Andover on Nov. 2. Billerica currents sits at the top of the Merrimack Valley Conference Small Division.
Saturday, Central Catholic at North Andover, 1 p.m. — In the Large Division of the Merrimack Valley Conference, Central Catholic has been untouchable. At 7-1-1, the Raiders' only loss came to nonconference opponent Bishop Fenwick early in the season.
Correspondent Trevor Hass also contributed to this report.